Category Archives: Parenting

home is where your story begins

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Over the past 4 years, Summer and I made a home out of a fun little 2 bedroom apartment in an ok neighborhood. When we first moved in after the divorce, she was 2, me 36, and my plan was minimal – navigate through our new life in survival mode. To figure it all out on my own and to love my baby girl as deeply as my heart would let me without it exploding. To dig my feet deep into the ground and make a home for us that was safe and comfy and peaceful. To learn how to be a single parent which came surprisingly easy to me, free to live life on my own terms and create memories with my baby without someone in the shadows telling me I was doing it wrong. The past 4 years started with a ‘live life right now’ mentality but as we got grounded, a ‘make a plan for the future’ little bug started whispering to me softly.

So I did.

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moving day

I worked harder at my job than I have ever worked and it was recognized. I was given more responsibilities, I grew in my career which led to promotions and raises and new projects I was trusted with, even though I had at least 1 moment a day where I thought, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.” Over the last 4 years, despite expensive legal battles over no child support and vet bills for a sick aging dog and annual rent and insurance and cable bill increases, I wore secondhand clothes and bought my underwear in bulk at the grocery store and ate more ramen noodles than I care to admit, all so my baby could have new clothes and eat nourishing meals while I built a nest egg. And 2 months ago my dream came true when I bought a beautiful townhouse surrounded by country in an amazing school district, with safe streets and playgrounds that dot every other block in our charming little neighborhood.

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It’s beautiful here. At night I sit out on the balcony with my head propped back on my shoulders in absolute awe at the hundreds of stars above me. The sky is different here – in the mornings I watch the sun throw vivid colors across the treetops through clouds that look like cotton balls. In the evenings, the sunsets are so brilliant and vast spanning across the views from my living room, dining room and kitchen windows.

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I have windows, so many windows. For the last 4 years I lived with just 2 windows and a patio door and only ever had the opportunity to see west from inside. Here I have a window every few feet in every room on every wall. My last house shared in my past life had floor to ceiling windows in the living room for sunset and the blue room faced the sunrise, but the blinds were always closed at the first hint of dusk and the bedroom windows had black out shades drawn tight most hours of the day. Yet here, I am free to let the skies pour in through the windows at all hours, I can watch the leaves rustle outside my living room windows and feel the breeze sweep through the open bedroom windows as I sleep. It’s gloriously freeing.

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breakfast at our beach, 2 minutes from home

The storms up here are incredible, stronger than anywhere I remember living before. I watch them roll in from miles away and love to hear the sideways rain pounding against my patio door begging to get in. In my past life I was always brought down to the basement to hide from the rain but here I welcome the beauty of cloud walls charging towards the house, everything turning quiet moments before the sky releases its fury. And then the storms pass leaving brilliant rose red sunsets behind; I’ve seen more rainbows in the 2 short months I’ve lived here than I have seen throughout my whole life.

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The house needs absolutely no work, which grants me lots of time to find fun projects I can do casually to satisfy my artistic urges. I’ve painted walls. I’ve given my nightstands a new finish. I’ve learned how to hang light fixtures. I’ve built an inset wall with my dad who taught me how to use a wall saw, a nail gun, how to drywall and how to hang a 60 pound tv on a bracket 3 feet over my head using a stepstool on top of an end table on top of a kitchen table. No easy feat.

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closing day

 

Summer started school last week, both of us rightfully nervous before that first day for the unknown. But almost a week in now, she and I are both happy and the anxiety has disappeared. She’s taking the bus and it’s been memory evoking watching her little backpack-adorned body climb up the steps and plop down into a seat behind the driver. The doggies and I walk her to the bus stop every morning and pick her up every afternoon, and the smile that greets me as she jumps off that last bus step is heavenly – pure bliss for my heart. I’ve made friends with the mom of the other girl at the bus stop, we’ve exchanged numbers and chat every morning for a bit after the bus pulls away. I can tell she’s going to be that one mom who leans on me and I on her, the lifeline we all desire when moving to new unchartered territory.

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There are things I miss about the apartment – one of my best friends upstairs, the maintenance crew who became like family, the ability to call the office anytime something was wrong, the pool (although when we shed tears the day I left, the manager invited me back indefinitely which Summer and I took advantage of plenty of times this summer). Though while we left behind a pivotal chapter in our lives the day we said our goodbyes, since we’ve been in the new house we’ve experienced so much happiness and I have so many stories to tell now that we’re settled in.

After 2 short months it feels like home now. And it is good.

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Filed under divorce, home, life, Love, Parenting

fun in photos

Face swap with my brother-in-law… proof that if I was born a guy I would have lived a long lonely life with 18 cats and a drinking problem…

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Summer in the car: Mommy, can I take my boots off?

Me: Sure.

Summer: Mommy, can I take my socks off?

Me: no, leave those on.

Summer: ok…

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Once upon a time 2 months ago, you could go outside without a coat, earmuffs, hat, gloves, scarf, boots, 3 pairs of socks, long underwear and snow pants and your nips wouldn’t instantly cut holes in your shirt and break off. Man, I miss those days…

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My nieces and I are on sale on eBay, better hurry there are only 6 of us left…

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Summer spends Christmas day with her dad so I spend the afternoon with my friend upstairs. This year I had champagne. I never have champagne. I realized that champagne makes me all warm and fuzzy because when I came back downstairs slightly buzzed and I looked at the reindeer on my fridge, I got all sappy, teared up and thought “holy bejebus, my child is a fucking artistic genius”…

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Everyday is a fairy tale with a dress like this…

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This past summer my dad and I took a sushi making class. And if a nationwide shortage of crabs is announced soon, we, erm, had nothing to do with it…

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Ah to be young and bendy. If I tried this my pelvis would fall off…

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Saleswoman at the mattress store: Do you like this one? Let me see if I can get you a lower price. Oh and we just got in a beautiful sleigh bed that would go great with it! Do you want me to…

Me: Oh no, that’s ok, we’re not actually buying a mattress today, just seeing if this one can fold us completely in half…

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Check out the woman behind us (if I attempted that I’d end up kissing the ice, with my phone and knee caps shattering into a million pieces)…

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These baby blues shine brighter than the sparkliest sapphires…

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Summer on the way out of the library: “Wait, mommy can you take a picture?”

Me: “Haha, sure.”

Summer: “Can you send that to me?”

Teenager in a 5 year old body I tells ya…

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Blowing giant soap bubbles off my hand – it’s the only party trick I know but it’s always a hit with…well, everyone. No one doesn’t like bubbles…

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Happy Wednesday, now go have some fun 🙂

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Filed under Kids, life, Love, Parenting

“mommy”

Last night, I had the wind knocked out of me with one little word.

“Mommy”.

Summer was missing her daddy as he is out of town this week so I set up facetime for them. And as soon as the call connected, Scott and his girlfriend’s faces appeared on the screen of my phone. All three of their faces lit up at the same time seeing each other and they asked all the usual “how was your day?” questions and the “are you having so much fun with mommy?” questions that usually start out a facetime talk. I walked away and started cleaning the kitchen, leaving them alone to chat because while I have no ill feelings towards his girlfriend, let’s be honest – I don’t need to see her face in my living room chatting away with my child. It was their conversation to have, not mine.

A few minutes later I walked back into the living room to see Summer twirling the phone in circles and being goofy, so I sat down with her and held the phone so they could actually see Summer and not the rotating ceiling.

And that’s when it happened.

Summer grabbed the phone, and yelled, “daddy!” and kissed him on the screen.

Then she yelled, “mommy!” and kissed the other face on the screen.

Heart.

Stabbed.

The two of them quickly responded with, “Summer, we talked about this…” And they changed the subject.

Cough, um, so it’s happened before. My child referred to this 27-year-old woman dating my 41-year-old ex-husband who Summer has known all of 6 months as “mommy”.

Tingly prickles washed up the front of my neck and into my cheeks. And they all carried on chatting away about nothing and everything while I sat frozen in my little “did that just really fucking happen?” bubble.

I didn’t say a word about it while they were on the phone.

I’m not mad at anyone for it – Summer is too little to understand the hurt that it caused, and the 2 faces on the screen didn’t encourage it, though I could have maybe, just maybe been given a heads up about it when it first started happening so I wouldn’t have been blindsided by the knife yesterday.

Obviously them just telling her not to call the girlfriend mommy wasn’t enough. That would never be enough. Not for Summer, not for me. So at bedtime we snuggled up close and had a little chat – I told her that it made momma sad to hear my baby call someone else mommy. I told her that I was the one who made her, who grew her, who had her in my tummy, whose heart is half hers, and who has taken care of her and loved her with my whole self since the very first day she was alive. And that is what makes me her mommy and no one else.

In her sweet little 4-year-old voice she said, “mommy, I’m sorry. I feel really bad and I promise I won’t ever call anyone else mommy again but you.” She got it. And my heart filled right back up as I listened to her breathing get heavy while she drifted off to dreamland.

Once I knew she was asleep, I went out to the living room and I cried. Oh, I cried good. A puffy-eyed in the morning type cry. Because, although I kept trying to remind myself that it actually tells me that this girl is doing something right with Summer if Summer equates her with things that “mommy” means to her – love, fun, safety, security – it still broke my heart for a moment.

A moment I never thought I would have to live.

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Filed under divorce, Family, Kids, life, Love, Parenting, sadness

oh yeah…

…blog…

Heeeeeeeey there…

It’s funny, the longer I went without blogging, the harder it was to figure out what to write about and it turned into this nasty downward blogging spiral of, “ooo that just happened, I should write about it… but well then there were those 14,234 other things I wanted to write about, too. Maybe I should do those first. But yeah, that was 3 months ago so, I… just don’t know…”

So I’m putting it all out, 1 big old lump of 3 months of living wrapped up in 1 post full of pretty pictures. Yep, that’ll do nicely.

April:

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“Momma, there’s a booger on my finger.” (I have at least 4 different pics of this same pose on different days)…

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Celebrating my bestie’s baby’s baptism, (now say that 3 times fast)…

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van Goghs making their masterpieces…

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The Nature Museum’s butterfly exhibit was really cool, but REALLY hard when you’re used to swatting at flying things near your head…

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When you work remotely, it’s a big deal to actually see the people you work with, so selfies are always in order…

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May:

School pics. Who the frack is this 15 year old and what has she done with my baby?….

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We visited a farm right down the road from us and had a blast….

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The life of preschooler knees…

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Mother’s Day…

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Brin!

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Bill!

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Brian!

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Please excuse the exclamation points, I just got to see so many work people in 1 month which is rare and makes me “!!!”

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“Mommy, can I do makeup, too?”

“Sure sweet pea, but only the eye shadow”…

Nailed it.

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June:

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This is what happens when the above rolls in….

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4th birthday celebrations with mommy and daddy, we agreed to always try to celebrate her birthday together…

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Human bubbles at ABT…

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Long Grove Strawberry Festival….

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It’s been a fun few months 🙂

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Filed under Birthday, Easter, home, Kids, life, Love, Parenting, Summer

Easter in photos

It’s official, Easter trumps Christmas as favorite holiday in my book. As much as I love Christmas decorations, putting them up and taking them down is a lot of work. As much as I love the act of giving Christmas gifts, it usually requires boatloads of money and I have unfortunately forgotten the combination to my vault full of gold and riches. And as much as I love Santa….

Nevermind.

There’s nothing bad I can say about Santa.

But really, Easter? All a good Easter requires is a dress that twirls really really well…

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 Bunny ears for dogs…

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And kiddos….

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And Dabba Doo (my dad’s grandpa name)…

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Maybe some bobby pins to hold them in place…

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A couple dozen eggs…

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Bunny-eared selfies…

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Maybe some donuts…

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Mini pretty colored chairs…

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Pretty babies in pretty bows….

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Pretty babies in pretty bows…ok, I may have already mentioned that but, come on, these babies are too cute to not mention again…

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And again…

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And again…

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Cousin lovin’…

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An auntie who will let you tackle her and gouge her eyes out…

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And a backyard squirt bottle chase (or is that just my family?)…

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‘Twas a very fun Easter this year.

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Happy Friday… if you need me, I’ll be over here in my best twirly dress spinning happy Friday spins.

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Filed under Easter, Family, Kids, life, Love, Parenting

in one week, for one week

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A week from now, Summer will be in California with her daddy, his family and his girlfriend for a family member’s wedding and a trip to Disneyland.

7 days.

My longest stretch away from my baby was 5 days for my last Team Building back in October and it was tough, but I was in another state constantly doing things with people I only get to see once a year. My mind was occupied. I, of course, missed Summer like crazy and we FaceTimed when we could, and we survived. Next week will be different though. This time she is the one flying to the other side of the country, she’ll be busy and she’ll have fun and her mind will be occupied, and I will be the one here at home.

In a very quiet apartment.

Logging off my computer at 4pm as usual but with no urgency to fly out the door to go pick her up from preschool.

I’m kind of dreading not seeing this face for 7 days…

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If given the choice of a week of no mommy-ing – actually sleeping in until 7, not having to repeat “brush your teeth” 10 times with one foot out the door, not choosing mac n’ cheese for dinner again just to put off the grocery shopping one more day – versus a week of all of it – single-mommying a three-year-old full of ups, downs, her sweet little strangling hugs and her angry face followed with “mommy, I’m mad at you”‘s, I would pick her every second of every day.

7 days. I can do this. Hell, I don’t really have a choice. I’ve told some of my mommy friends that I may drop by unannounced next week to hang out with their kids if I’m having child withdrawal. That should help some.

And FYI if you see this, they totally mean that other Jaime.

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Filed under Kids, life, Parenting, Travel

dream home

Every day on the way home from preschool, we pass a beautiful house that I could only ever dream of buying, followed with squeals from Summer when she spots it. “Mommy, there’s our favorite green house!” she yells and points…

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Zillow. That porch. I would make out with it if the owners wouldn’t arrest me.

houseGoogle street view. That yard. Like soft, green, fluffy velvet butter.

“Someday, I’m going to buy us that house,” I tell her knowing damn well I probably won’t ever be able to considering 1) it was last on the market for $589,000, and 2) it’s, um, not actually for sale. Meh.

Details, schmeetails.

But then when we get home to our cozy little space and I look around, I know we have everything we could ever possibly need and then some. Two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a small kitchen (because really, how much room does one actually need in order to cook chicken nuggets and have kitchen dance parties?), a decent dining room and comfy colorful living room, a patio, no maintenance, no mowing the lawn, no HOA fees, no having to buy a new appliance if one breaks…. and we’re happy. While there’s always something to complain about (ahem no in-unit laundry), there’s always a silver lining (shared laundry room means being able to do 6 loads of laundry at the same time in under an hour). There’s no garage parking which royally sucks in the middle of a Chicago winter (boo), but there’s a pool and playground right outside our door (can I get an amen!). I have weird neighbors who get crazy eyes as they turn and run (not even kidding in the slightest) from my terrifying ginormous rabid attack dogs…

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…but I have others who bring me platefuls* of cookies and bags of bread, there’s Drunk John across the hall who always flashes his award-winning beer-soaked smile, and I have my kindred spirit mama and her daughter right upstairs.

*side note – platefuls just sounds wrong, like it should be plates-ful instead, like brothers-in-law, no?

It’s not our permanent home, but it’s our for-a-little-while home and I love it. It’s as perfect as any beautiful, 32,000 square foot box of gorgeousness sitting on 3/4ths of an acre with beautiful finishes and a basement big enough to hold 15 washers and dryers and a small aircraft. Plus with a house that size I’d have to hire a housekeeper and then I’d just feel bad every time she picked up my dirty underoos off the bathroom floor. So yeah… maybe someday, maybe not.

After we passed our favorite green house yesterday and I told her we’re going to buy it someday, she asked me, “when we buy the house how will we get it home from the store?”

“With the world’s largest shopping cart, sweet pea. They just haven’t made it yet…”

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Filed under doggies, home, Kids, life, Parenting, Suburbs